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Published: 00:00, 07 September 2016
| Updated: 15:28, 07 September 2016
A former Ukip MEP's aide – who admitted trying to inflate a meal receipt for an official bash – has lost her good reputation... and £950, we can reveal.
Christine Hewitt forked out the money for the get together at a Margate restaurant – and has NEVER been refunded the money from Ukip.
Today, the 55-year-old chief of staff to ex-MEP Janice Atkinson, prospective MP for Folkestone and Hythe in the last general election, was given a four-month suspended jail sentence.
She was also ordered to do 40 hours of unpaid work for the community and pay £500 in court costs.
Judge William Kennedy told her: "The money that you were seeking to obtain came from the funds of the EU. That itself is a mis-statement. The EU has no funds of its own but simply monies entrusted to it by individual governments.
"Those who pay their taxes to their government expect absolute honesty in the way their government spends that hard-earned money."
He added that Hewitt’s claim she was “repatriating money” was just “a veneer of respectability upon what is straightforward theft”.
Defence barrister Martin Hooper had told the court that the former teacher had been "hung out to dry" by her former boss and left her life “in tatters”.
Prosecutor Angela Knight told Canterbury Crown Court that in February last year Ukip was holding its Spring conference at the Winter Gardens in Margate.
Hewitt, of Townsend Square, Kings Hill near Maidstone, was organising a women’s lunch at The Hoy Pub opposite the gardens.
Manager David Goulding met Hewitt and agreed to provide a buffet lunch for the 35 to 50 expected female guests, along with an ‘open’ bar and free tea and coffee.
During that conversation, Hewitt mentioned an event sponsor and suggested Mr Goulding might increase the invoice price.
The following month Hewitt sent an email asking for wine and water saying the pub should add a premium to the cost that Ukip would charge its sponsor.
She said she planned to present the bill to a newly formed collection of pan-European parties called Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe, and its foundation The
Initiative for Direct Democracy in Europe.
“They are funded by the European Parliament and therefore indirectly funded by the British taxpayers," added the prosecutor.
The court heard that almost double the expected 50 people turned up for the women’s lunch - mainly men - and the bar bill alone was £600.
The final bill came to £950 but Hewitt asked for an inflated invoice – and Mr Goulding later told police he was increasingly unhappy about the situation.
The prosecutor added: “He said although he had no political affiliations he was fed up with politicians ripping off the British public.”
A national newspaper was contacted who sent a reporter to the pub posing as a member of staff and filmed her saying the inflated invoice was a way of “repatriating funds” from the European Parliament.
The newspaper later handed over the film to Kent Police and Ms Atkinson was immediately suspended from Ukip.
Hewitt admitted to police getting the false invoice but claimed she was acting on instructions from the MEP – who denied her allegations.
Atkinson, 54, never faced criminal action over the scandal but it led to her being expelled from Ukip.
Atkinson hit the headlines two years ago after being recorded referring to a British Thai constituent and UKIP supporter as "a ting tong from somewhere".
She is now an independent MEP.
Hewitt had expected to face a two-day trial on Monday but after last minute discussions with lawyers, changed her plea to guilty.